IFAMA 2022: Uniting minds and ideas for a better world

Filed Under: EARTH Stories
Date: June 30th, 2022

EARTH students were part of the case competition.

Imagine a space full of people from different nationalities, ethnicities, and backgrounds, all gathered with a common purpose: to share ideas, create strategic connections, and work together toward solutions to global challenges, creating a world where everyone has food security and food sovereignty in environmental harmony. For more than 30 years, the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) has been uniting current and future business, academic, and government leaders and other stakeholders to improve the strategic approach, transparency, sustainability, and responsiveness of food systems, supply chains, and global agribusiness.

The annual IFAMA conference fosters the synergy and exchange of ideas among participants through various panels, symposiums, exhibitions, and competitions between university students. The association has 80 affiliated countries, and in previous years, the event has taken place in nations like the Netherlands, China, the United States, Argentina, and South Africa.

This year, EARTH University had the honor of hosting the 32nd edition of this prestigious event with INCAE Business School from June 18 to 22. Both institutions worked hard for three years to shape an organized, efficient, and productive conference for the more than 200 global participants who traveled to Costa Rica. The theme of the IFAMA 2022 Conference was “Sustainability in agribusiness: the role of technology, network management, and consequent value chain disruptions.” The event comprised three parts: a two-day Symposium held on June 18 and 19 at EARTH’s Guacimo Campus, a Student Case Competition among university students during the entire conference, and a Forum held at the InterContinental Costa Rica Hotel in San Jose from June 20 to 22, with the closing on the final afternoon at the INCAE campus.

Some students had the opportunity to showcase their businesses.

During the Symposium, the Guacimo Campus overflowed with brilliant minds sharing proposals and generating relevant topics for discussion. Irene Alvarado Van der Laat (EARTH), Esteban R. Brenes (INCAE), and Juan José Bolaños (‘12, Costa Rica, Piñalbo) co-chaired the conference and welcomed the event full of enthusiasm and motivation.

Jim French.

Before the itinerary full of activities began, the audience listened to Jim French, a pioneer of EARTH’s faculty and an essential pillar for global agricultural education. He emphasized the evolution and importance of universities that train professionals in agricultural sciences to respond to the world’s changing needs.

“Universities must play an essential role in educating future leaders and change agents. University education is the best instrument to advance societies and individuals,” Mr. French emphasized.

Proposals from the teams.

Panel discussions on both days covered topics like value chains, the circular economy in agribusiness, and market innovation. In addition, 22 student teams began researching the proposed competition case to find affordable and efficient solutions. Groups presented their results before a jury of excellence that chose who would move on to the next round.

The EARTH community welcomed everyone with our characteristic friendliness and warmth, and our campus burgeoned with energy, ideas, and new proposals. The event then moved to the InterContinental Costa Rica Hotel, where panels, debates, and the exchange of strategic thinking continued.

Arturo Condo.

“The vast majority of food is produced by companies, local and multinational, large and small, and even micro-small. The sum of their work will define our future. So, we not only have to think about new ways of producing food and approaching the food business, but we also have to introduce those new ways to all food producers,” said EARTH University President Arturo Condo, after thanking INCAE and IFAMA for the excellent partnership.

Irene Alvarado moderating one of the panels.

EARTH faculty member Irene Alvarado moderated two distinguished panels: “Positive Food Systems for Nature,” in which panelists discussed farmer resilience, the transition to more sustainable food systems, and collective action to generate a change in scale; and “Circular Economy: A new model to support social development,” in which they discussed the value of resources through sustainable design, repair, reuse, renewable resources, composting, and recycling.

After five days of networking and intellectual and holistic exchanges, IFAMA 2022 successfully closed on June 23 with a dinner hosted by INCAE.

We wish to recognize the efforts of every member of our institution who helped accomplish such an impeccable event. Special recognition to Professor Irene Alvarado, who, with the support of Gabriela Monge, Connie Burgos, and Marcela Vargas, led the event’s development.